Friday, November 09, 2007

Quotes From Around Yon Mediasphere

The first day that CNN came on the air. It felt like a breath of fresh air in a stale news enviroment. Unfiltered news 24/7. A permanent fix for a news junkie. I mainlined it daily. Now it feels like one more noxious gust of intellectual pollution. I rarely tune it in.


Sunday newspaper sales have fallen to a 32-year low of about 51.3 million, according to projections based on the latest report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The decline could become increasingly troublesome for publishers – who already have enough problems – because Sunday traditionally accounts for about half the total ad sales for the typical newspaper.

. . . [A] significant portion of Sunday circulation was eliminated deliberately by publishers eager to do away with the high cost of hauling newspapers great distances to poorly penetrated locations. . . .the Denver newspapers shed 12.5% of their Sunday circulation in the last six months and the Atlanta Constitution trimmed 9.2% of its Sunday run. Advertisers never saw much value in distant circulation, so won’t be particularly ruffled by its loss.

Newspapers also are protected for the time being by the fact that they have convinced most advertisers that the Sunday paper is the most valuable edition of the week, because readers spend twice as much time reading the Sunday paper as the daily editions. If advertisers continue buying this story, newspapers have a shot at dancing around a certain decline in Sunday circulation.

But the dancing publishers are vulnerable to the question of how much time people actually spend with a newspaper, Sunday or otherwise.


TiVo wasn't the end of television advertisements after all. A new study shows that television-viewers, for the large part, stick around to watch television commercials. In fact, in some instances, the commercial viewership was higher than that of the programming itself.


Magazines won’t die. But I wonder how many new ones will be born. House & Garden is folding. Business 2.0 is dead. Ditto Jane, Cargo, ElleGirl, Teen People — all relatively recent launches. A launch can easily cost $40 million before break-even. Entertainment WEekly, my baby, went through $200 million before turning profitable (that wasn’t my fault!). It’s a $300-million-plus-a-year franchise now. But you can bet that it wouldn’t be launched today. Nor should it. EW should and would be a web network instead if I had my way.

So the question is: Who will have the balls to start a new magazine today?

Oh, once you already have one, if it’s profitable and if you’re smart, it can still prosper, especially if it learns how to gather and serve its community online. So I don’t think those magazines will die. But starting a new one? That’s just too high risk.


Just in time for the presidential campaign, Kathleen Willey has a new book out with more dubious accusations against the Clintons. Willey, you may recall, is the woman who accused Bill Clinton of groping her in the Oval Office but whose contradictory testimony was ultimately deemed by the Republican independent prosecutor as not credible enough to bring to a jury. Nevertheless, FOX News gave her a double segment and helpfully posted lurid chyron-excerpts from her account throughout the interview. I half expected Fabio to burst on the scene and vow to avenge Willey’s honor.


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